Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Seminoles Offense Sacked; Howard Highlights Dominant Defense

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Seminoles Offense Sacked; Howard Highlights Dominant Defense

Article excerpt

Byline: Bob Thomas, Times-Union sports writer

TALLAHASSEE -- There's no secret to the on-field struggles Florida State has encountered the past two seasons. Unable to stop drives and often victimized by big plays, FSU's defense sank to 61st nationally last season, after ranking 43rd in 2001.

With the return of 10 starters, and quality depth at each position, Bobby Bowden expects his defense to set the tone this season.

"If you're going to get better, that's the place you better get better," Bowden said.

Thus far, defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews' unit is responding on cue.

FSU's defense got the best of the offense for the second consecutive scrimmage yesterday, recording 10 sacks while only surrendering two scores. Junior defensive tackle/end Charles Howard, who starred at Union County High, led the push with four sacks.

"Charlie, they couldn't block him today," Bowden said. "We put him at defensive end; they couldn't block him. Put him at defensive tackle; they couldn't block him. He's got some natural pass-rushing instincts. . . . He showed it in the spring and he's showing it this fall."

The dominant effort by Howard and the defense came just three days after they registered 12 sacks on quarterbacks Chris Rix, Fabian Walker and Wyatt Sexton.

And while the 'Noles have lacked a pass rush over the past few seasons, a more encouraging sign has been the defense's ability to keep the offense in check. Through two scrimmages, the offense has been unable to sustain a scoring drive.

"It would be a bad sign if your offense is running up and down the field," Bowden said.

Of course, the improving defense has made it difficult for Bowden to get a gauge on the Seminoles' passing game.

"It's not sharp," Bowden said. "It's not even close to sharp. I don't think it's anything to be alarmed about. …

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